PS4 Review : Sony's latest gaming machine is here
  Stephen
COLUMNS-REVIEWS
July 2015

 

Introduction

In 2006 we saw the arrival of the PlayStation 3 which brought us into a new era of High Definition gaming. It even had a Blu-ray drive, which was the definition of overkill at the time. However, Sony had bigger plans, a vision that would define the future of gaming and one that has become much clearer with the PlayStation 4.

Design

I’m just going to say it: the PlayStation 4 is simply outright beautiful. It’s the parallelogram of the future, brilliantly crafted into a machine that you would proudly want to display next to your television.

If you think designing a beautiful console isn’t too difficult given today’s technology you would be terribly mistaken because achieving such beauty is no easy feat. Designing these consoles goes way beyond the appearance and into the practicality of the build. Sony has managed to stuff a lot into the relatively small system, engineering even the power supply into the design.

The last generation of consoles had one serious problem that plagued them for years. A high percentage of them were affected by overheating and this caused multiple iterations to be created in order to prevent them from “catching fire”. We can only hope that this issue has been remedied but it’s too early in the product’s life cycle to pass judgment.

Controller

The new controller has been overhauled in many key areas. Upon a first look you will realize that the controllers are now taller to provide enhanced grip and improved comfort. If you game on a PlayStation regularly you shouldn’t have any problems adjusting to the design.

However, more impressively, if you’re accustomed to the Xbox controller it wouldn’t take much effort adjusting to the new design which is something that could not have been said about the PS3’s controller. The controller now comes with a ‘touchpad’ which is integrated into some games in order to enhance the experience. It’s a new implementation and only time will tell if it translates into a better experience. I did enjoy using it with the virtual keyboard which was surprisingly convenient. The inclusion of the micro USB is always welcomed since most devices use it to juice up (and luckily so too does the PS4 controller). However I would have loved to see the inclusion of short range wireless charging or even the Qi inductive standard.

The controller also includes a 3.5mm jack so you can easily plug in your mono headset (included in the box) or any other compatible third party pair. Oddly enough Sony placed an EXT port next to the headset jack which we can only assume is for use with accessories since it was not explicitly stated.

Software

The PS4 has great hardware and must therefore be backed by solid software and user experience. The interface looks good, it’s simple to navigate and provides some nice eye candy. Sony has once again included their moving backgrounds and transparent layers to produce a modern feel throughout the system.

The PS3 was a great media device but for some reason the PS4 doesn’t match it. There is no local media playback using your flash drive or even DLNA support. Having said that, you should definitely expect these functionalities to be added to the console in a future software update.

These systems are usually first and foremost gaming consoles but to many they're also their entertainment system used for watching movies or even web browsing. The PS4 does both well with all the major streaming services readily available and a web browser that’s more than capable of rendering any website you throw at it.

At the time of writing this review a YouTube application was nowhere in sight but thankfully the web browser can comfortably handle all your YouTubing needs.

Game Play

Now we get into what’s probably the most important aspect of the system. The PS4 is packed with power that should easily endure its life cycle. Games that are currently available look good and are more visually detailed than the previous generation. You will definitely see the improvement but it probably won’t amaze you. Now this isn’t really the fault of the console because it’s still young and game developers need time to harness the full power of the console.

During my time with the console I focused on FIFA 14 and Call of Duty Ghosts. I am going to be frank, the games look better but not by much. As I said before it’s not the console's fault and it should improve with time.

The game play in FIFA 14 is a lot smoother and loading times have been greatly reduced. The AI (Artificial Intelligence) seems smarter and players react to your input faster and more accurately.

Again, Call Of Duty Ghosts looks a little better but still not as good as you would have expected. You should expect much more impressive visuals with Call Of Duty Advanced Warfare when it drops in the fall (November) of 2014. Don’t be alarmed though because when you jump into the game you begin to notice what’s special about the new system. Manoeuvring is a lot more immersive and fluid with objects in the environment becoming increasingly in focus when they would have been blurred in the past.

If you opt for the PS Eye there are some additional goodies available. There's the now ubiquitous voice control functionality that helps you easily navigate through the interface as well as some cool new fun games to keep your friends occupied and impressed.

Games

The console is relatively new so there really isn't a wide selection of games to choose from in the library. However you should be more than covered with the games currently available as well as the titles due to launch later this year.

Additionally, Sony recently introduced PlayStation NOW which allows you to play some PlayStation 3 games on your new console. The service is in Beta and requires an internet connection to function. As you would expect modern platforms have their mix of exclusive titles and this console is no different. The hit game Uncharted is expected to be released soon for the PS4, ushering in the fourth installment which would be optimized to make use of the additional power of the console. We can also expect the remastered version of the epic hit GTA V to stores sometime in November but in the mean time ,you have the usual collection of EA games such as FIFA, Battlefield 4 or alternatively COD Ghosts. You can also try Diablo 3 or even Destiny until the next slew of games releases. The list of upcoming games is never ending and you should have no problems finding one you like, especially if you're looking at purchasing the console in time for the holiday season.

Conclusion

You may have realized that throughout this review the PS4 was only compared to the Xbox and very little was said about Nintendo. This is simply because the Nintendo Wii U is targeted at a very different audience and if you’re looking at purchasing a PS4 then I think the only other system that you should be concerned with is the Xbox One.

The PlayStation 4 is currently priced at US$400 and newer games are between US$50 and $70 on Amazon. (You would of course have to add shipping charges, 20 percent customs duties and 15 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) to these prices) but you can get the console locally for an estimated TT $4000 with newer games ranging from around TT$500 to TT$600.

By comparison, the (Kinect-less) Xbox One console would run you about the same (around US$400) with the full bundle (with Kinect) costing an extra US$100.

Most people like what is familiar and that’s exactly what Sony accomplished here. They managed to create an upgraded system which definitely feels new and yet still managed to keep it familiar. They found a good balance, one can even argue the  perfect balance.

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TECH PULSE RATING:

4.5 out of 5.

© ​Paradise Pulse - Online Magazine Trinidad and Tobago

By: Stephen | COLUMNS-REVIEWS | July 2015


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